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The Pooled Fund Study has established several research objectives.

  1. To assess the need, potential benefit, and receptivity in participating state transportation departments for state and regional Maintenance Decision Support Systems.
  2. To define functional and user requirements for an operational Maintenance Decision Support System that can access current road and weather conditions, forecast weather that will affect transportation routes, predict how road conditions will change in response to candidate maintenance treatments, suggest optimal maintenance strategies to maintenance personnel, and evaluate the effectiveness of maintenance treatments that are applied.
  3. To build and evaluate an operational Maintenance Decision Support System that will meet the defined functional requirements in the participating state transportation departments.
  4. To improve the ability to forecast road conditions in response to changing weather and applied maintenance treatments.

To accomplish the research objectives set above, a large list of research tasks has been set.

  1. Meet with the project's technical panel to refine the project scope and work plan.
  2. Critically evaluate the results of the Federal Highway Administration's project to develop a prototype operational Maintenance Decision Support System.
  3. Interview front-line and mid-level maintenance supervisors from each of the participating states to identify and prioritize needs for maintenance support functionality.
  4. Assess the participating states' current and near-term capability to report current roadway conditions and track maintenance activities on specific highway routes.
  5. Assess institutional receptivity to maintenance management decision support in the participating states and recommend actionsa to overcome potential barriers.
  6. Based on results of previous tasks, propose in a technical memorandum to the project's technical panel the high-level functional and user requirements for an operational Maintenance Decision Support System and propose an architectural framework for the system. Separately identify those requirements that can be immediately satisfied and those that will require fundamental research.
  7. Upon approval of the panel, construct a basic prototype MDSS incorporating those requirements that can be immediately satisfied.
  8. Prepare, for approval of the project's technical panel, a plan for pilot deployment and evaluation of the basic prototype MDSS in a multi-state test region spanning portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa.
  9. Upon approval of the technical panel, deploy the basic prototype MDSS in state agency offices in the multi-state test regions and evaluate its performance in actual winter conditions during the winter of 2003-2004.
  10. Develop and test new system components that satisfy those requirements requiring fundamental research, incorporating ongoing and emerging technology improvements associated with weather forecasting and maintenance practices.
  11. Based on the results of the evaluation and development of new system components, recommend needed improvements and design modifications and identify operational limitations requiring additional research and development.
  12. Upon approval of the technical panel, make system improvements, deploy an improved prototype MDSS in state agency offices in the multi-state test region, and evaluate its performance in actual winter conditions during the winter of 2004-2005.
  13. Prepare a final report summarizing methodology, findings in performance, conclusions and recommendations.
  14. Make an executive presentation to the project's technical panel and provide electronic copies of the presentation material to participating states.